Colton Herta blasts Rahal teams after contact with Scott McLaughlin in Indy 500 practice

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INDIANAPOLIS — Andretti Autosport driver Colton Herta was angry with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing after he narrowly averted a heavy crash during the opening minutes of Indy 500 practice Thursday.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been green for only a moment at the noon start of a six-hour practice when the yellow flag flew after Herta’s No. 88 Dallara-Honda made light contact with Team Penske rookie Scott McLaughlin’s much slower Dallara-Chevrolet while squeezing around the outside of Turn 4. Herta’s car also scraped the outside wall with its right side.

Herta was forced to the outside because Simona De Silvestro and McLaughlin occupied the inside two lanes and were under braking because the RLL Racing trio of Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato and Santino Ferrucci had slowed for an apparent photo opportunity at the Yard of Bricks finish line.

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“It turns out going three-wide for a photo op during IndyCar practice isn’t an ideal situation,” Herta told IndyCar Radio after viewing replays of the incident. “They’re going 100 mph on the front straight while guys are running 220. Whoever is in charge of that at Rahal is a complete idiot and just risking everybody’s life out there for the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.

“Luckily, we got away with it easy. The car should be OK. I just pancaked the wall lightly and luckily wasn’t able to take out Scott. We’ll make sure the car is OK. I’m not mad at Scott and Simona. It’s those Rahal guys that completely ruined everything. It’s crazy.”

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Asked for comment by NBC Sports, IndyCar officials said they were evaluating and reviewing the incident. During the Peacock broadcast, IndyCar official Kevin Blanch was showing on camera telling Penske team members in McLaughlin’s pit that the series apparently was unaware of the RLL photo op.

After some minor repairs, Herta was back on track about an hour later.

“The most important thing is this is our main car,” Herta said. “It’s the car we’ve prepped for Inidy. It’s our fast car. And it didn’t get hurt too bad.”

During an interview with NBC Sports reporter Dillon Welch, Herta initially seemed angry with McLaughlin and De Silvestro because “I’m coming around the corner doing 220, and these idiots are doing 170. I don’t know what their goal was there. …. Just baffles me that they’re going side by side at 170 mph taking up the whole track. It’s crazy.”

<em>Colton Herta makes light contact with the Turn 4 wall while squeezing past Scott McLaughlin, who was slowing to avoid the three Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars side by side ahead of him (Peacock).</em>
Colton Herta makes light contact with the Turn 4 wall while squeezing past Scott McLaughlin, who was slowing to avoid the three Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars side by side ahead of him (Peacock).

But after a cordial chat between the drivers in pit lane, Colton Herta gave McLaughin a pat on the shoulder. Bryan Herta, Colton’s father and strategist, also had a friendly conversation with John Bouslog, McLaughlin’s strategist at Penske.

“I think the Rahal dudes were trying to get a nice little photo there,” McLaughlin told Welch in an interview. “Colton came really quick, was coming fast, and I just checked up in front of him. It’s hard to check up around here. Just had no idea. Apologized to him, he apologized back to me, so a bit of a 50-50 thing.

“I really don’t know what exactly happened. It was the first lap of the morning, and I was just trying to get around and do some pit stop practice. At least the car is very fast. Chevy fast all week. Just a little bit of miscommunication between everyone.”

McLaughlin’s said the fright front of his car wasn’t damaged in the incident. Colton Herta said he had no choice but to put the right side of his car against the wall.

“It happened so fast, I didn’t think I could get to the left,” Herta said. “I saw a little bit of a lane and was hoping Scott’s spotter would tell him, and he did right at the last second. He probably moved over half a car length, and it was just enough for me to scrape by against the wall and bobble between him and the wall.”

Colton Herta blasts Rahal teams after contact with Scott McLaughlin in Indy 500 practice originally appeared on NBCSports.com